The noble vision of 1912
On January 8 1987, the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the African National Congress (ANC), the then-president of the ANC, Comrade Oliver Tambo, spoke of “the noble vision of 1912”.
He called upon the people of South Africa to ensure that, by their own actions, “… the apartheid republic is as short-lived as its founders were short-sighted”. Tambo spoke of the ANC as “the noble vision of 1912” that had become a formidable force.
The creation of the Union of South Africa to the exclusion of the black majority in 1910 and the institutionalisation of racism in 1948 could “… no longer hold its own …” in the face of the gallant struggles led by the ANC.
Tambo observed that the “process of the emergence of an alternative power in our country had taken a deep and permanent hold. The house of iniquity which the racists constructed is disintegrating and crumbling into a heap of rubble.”
The key message of the January 8 1987 statement was that the historic development in South Africa then, being the direct result of the campaign of ungovernability – whose origin was the January 8 statement of 1985 – demanded that the ANC and the masses deliver “hammer blow after hammer blow until the entire apartheid edifice is completely demolished”.
By the time of the 75th anniversary of the ANC in 1987, sufficient deployment and deepening of the four pillars of struggle had taken root, being the political underground; the mobilisation of the masses; the operations of the armed cadres of Umkhonto weSizwe; and international solidarity under the banner of the anti-apartheid movement.
The noble vision of 1912 was steadily taking shape. The apartheid regime of terror had “lost political control over the overwhelming majority of the black masses of our country”. The masses were “no longer accepting the authority and the legitimacy of the white minority regime”. The apartheid system was being rendered unworkable.
The noble vision of 1912, “the ideas and the perspectives of a united, democratic, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa”, had gained the necessary hegemony – the primary inspiration driving the masses of our people to continue their sustained assault on the apartheid regime from all fronts towards the realisation of their deepest aspirations of a better life for all.
The people of South Africa had taken their “destiny in their own hands by engaging the enemy in struggle” and had expressed their allegiance to what Tambo described as “the premier instrument of liberation”, the ANC
On January 8 2012 in Mangaung, the ANC celebrated 100 years of selfless struggle. President Jacob Zuma delivered a detailed account of the history of subjugation of Africans, not only on the continent, but also those Africans in diaspora.
President Zuma acknowledged the strategic alliances that were formed with a number of progressive formations in various parts of Africa and the world. He also related in detail the formation of a number of fraternal organisations that emerged in South Africa and how these gravitated towards the “noble vision of 1912”.
President Zuma spoke at length about the key moments in the advancement of the struggle to topple apartheid – the formation of the ANC Youth League; the “M Plan”; the banning of the ANC and other organisations; the formation of Umkhonto weSizwe; the Rivonia Trial; the repression; the repositioning of the external mission in exile; the rise of the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM); the Soweto uprising; and the 1980s leading to the convergence of all progressive forces on the ANC.
The main focus of the address by President Zuma in this regard was the progressive delivery of “hammer blow after hammer blow until the entire apartheid edifice is completely demolished”, that Tambo spoke about in 1987. These advances resulted in the relenting of the apartheid regime, the unbanning of the ANC and other formations, the return of exiles and the negotiated settlement.
The progressive delivery of “hammer blow after hammer blow until the entire apartheid edifice is completely demolished” ushered in a new era in 1994 with the democratic exercise of people’s power – the ANC won an overwhelming majority in elections and Comrade Nelson Mandela, the volunteer-in-chief of the M Plan, became the first president of the democratically elected government of South Africa.
The “noble vision of 1912” also reached another key milestone – the adoption in 1996 of one of the best constitutions in the world, one that entrenched the rule of law; the separation of powers of the executive, the judiciary and parliament; basic human rights; and the reconstruction and development programme (RDP).
On Sunday January 8 2012, in celebrating 100 years of the ANC, President Zuma established a strategic link between the “noble vision of 1912” and the “hammer blow after hammer blow until the entire apartheid edifice is completely demolished” by locating RDP in the context of the Freedom Charter.
The RDP, being the first economic policy position of the newly elected democratic government under the leadership of Comrade Mandela, elaborated into key sub-programmes “a strategic agenda for the realisation of a better life for all”.
The RDP represented the noble vision of 1912: it included such key sub-programmes as the MEETING OF BASIC NEEDS – such as water, sanitation, housing etc – and BUILDING THE ECONOMY AND CREATING JOBS.
In this regard, President Zuma reiterated the urgent task of “speeding up the building of a national democratic society wherein all South Africans enjoy an improved quality of life, especially the working class and the poor” – thus contextualising Tambo’s formulation of “hammer blow after hammer blow until the entire apartheid edifice is completely demolished”. For what is freedom for the poor without their basic needs being met? What is a democratic dispensation without water, sanitation, peace, safety, security and jobs?
As we celebrate 100 years of the noble vision of 1912, President Zuma has characterised the triple challenge facing South Africa – the key content (urgent tasks) of the “hammer blow after hammer blow until the entire apartheid edifice is completely demolished” – as being the eradication of poverty, unemployment and inequality.
Apartheid is not dead when our people still experience poverty; apartheid’s legacy is a reality when our people battle to find decent jobs; apartheid is still alive when South Africa is rated as among the most unequal countries in the world – the rich are obscenely richer, and poverty is grinding the poor into desperation.
The noble vision of 1912 has clear tasks for 2012 and beyond – eradication of poverty, creation of decent jobs and the equalisation of South African society by extending access to resources and ownership of the commanding heights of the economy to the poor.
The policy conference of the ANC scheduled for June/July 2012 must find ways of delivering hammer blow after hammer blow until the entire apartheid edifice is completely demolished by eradicating poverty in South Africa in our lifetime, as a legacy of our generation.
The policy conference must find creative ways, in the context of possible world recession and the collapse of global markets – with the economies of the US and Europe reaching the limits of their own potential and the rise of the China as the next biggest world economy – to deliver hammer blow after hammer blow until the entire apartheid edifice is completely demolished by creating functional space and a challenge to the private sector to create decent work opportunities.
The centenary year of the ANC has the task of delivering hammer blow after hammer blow until the entire apartheid edifice is completely demolished by equalising South African society economically, without resorting to unsustainable populist demagoguism tendencies that Amilca Cabral warned against – tell no lie, claim no easy victories!!!